Winter of 2038

“Yes, there was a time in America when you could turn on the lights with the flick of a switch,” I answered to my grandson. It was the winter of 2038 and I was sitting with my grandchildren by candlelight, wrapped in our quilts and sweaters to keep warm. It has been over 10 years since the last coal plant in America was shut down and 16 years since Coal Creek Station in North Dakota was closed, and my grandchildren enjoyed hearing me talk about the old days.

“Why did they do that grandma, why did they shut down all of the coal plants?”

“Well, some politicians supported it so they could get re-elected, they knew they would be retired by the time the people found out what they did. And, power companies liked it because they could make more money by switching to wind and solar. Yes, see children, utility companies are guaranteed a profit by the government. They knew they will get back every dollar they spend plus a guaranteed profit. Investing in expensive renewables that had to be replaced frequently allowed the power companies to earn more money, and that meant nice bonuses for the executives,” I answered.

“But, didn’t they know that wind and solar could not replace coal?”

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“Many knew the truth but did it anyway. You see, when I was much younger, there was a power company whose advertising slogan was 'always on.' That is what they said and that’s what they delivered before, well you know, before the dark days.

“Back in those days electricity was delivered to everyone’s home and business over the electricity grid. The people that shut down the coal plants didn’t know, or didn’t care, that the electricity grid could not work properly on wind and solar power,” I said.

“Did they say why they did it?”

“Yes, they said coal was bad for the environment even though, as you know, building, operating, replacing and disposing of wind towers and solar panels hurts the environment far more than coal,” I explained.

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“What did the people do?”

“Well, at first many cheered the shutting of the coal plants. Some kept warm believing that they were saving the planet and others kept warm slapping each other on the back for a job well done. But that didn’t last too long once the people realized that Alexa only spoke to them when it was sunny,” I said.

“I can’t believe people were that dumb”, muttered my grandson.

“Oh, you mustn’t say that”, I said, “that is what they were taught in school and that is what they were told by people they trusted, people like Al Gore and "UN Secretary-General Thunberg." They believed it them…at first. But, by the time the people saw that they were having to pay higher prices for unreliable electricity it was too late to turn back.

“OPE, it sounds like the wind is picking up, you can try the TV to see if it works while I try to wash a load of clothes. But remember children, keep those candles handy.”

Grande represented the 41st District in the N.D. Legislature from 1996 to 2014. She is also co-founder of the Roughrider Policy Center, a "innovation over regulation" think tank. She is a wife, mom, grandma, lover of life and Jesus. Opinions are solely her own. Email her at bette@bettegrande.com.